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Storify stories now on news reader app Pulse

April 19th, 2012 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Social media and blogging

Curated storytelling tool Storify has partnered with news reader app Pulse.

The move marks Storify’s first syndication deal and sees curated stories by Storify users such as Al Jazeera’s the Stream, the Washington Post and the White House communications team available on the social newsreader app.

Pulse, which is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook, allows readers to chose to add their favourite news providers and feeds giving a personalised reading experience.

A Storified blog post by the company explains how to add your Storify creations to your personalised Pulse app.

You can also see your stories – or any account’s stories – on Pulse by subscribing to the RSS feed at the top of Storify profile pages. Then call the feeds up from Google Reader on Pulse. You’ll be able to see all those accounts’ stories on Pulse from then on.
For more on the syndication deal see this Storify.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – newspaper lessons in using QR codes to drive traffic

September 1st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Handy tools and technology, Mobile, Traffic

Newspapers interested in how to make use of QR codes (quick reader codes) could take a look at a post on Poynter which details the way six US newspapers have been using QR codes to drive traffic to their websites. By assessing the news organisations’ different approaches, Poynter’s post has some helpful advice for anyone trying to make QR codes, which allow users to scan a printed code with their smartphone to take them to a specific web page, work for them. One advantage of a QR code as opposed to a printed link is the ability to monitor the traffic from the code.

The post advises:

Be sure to provide information on how to use the codes.

[Danny Sanchez, online content manager at the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel] suggests putting production rules in place for the codes, making them no smaller than ¾” x ¾” and keeping them off the fold, “which makes it maddeningly difficult to scan”. Editors at the Sun-Sentinel also provide a standard URL redirect next to the code, for those who can’t or won’t scan it.

Creative examples in the post include that of the Washington Post, which has been putting QR codes on “could-be-viral stories” to let readers share them on their Facebook page or the Palm Beach Post, which used a QR code to link to an interactive quiz that let people take five sample questions from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test given to eighth grade students.

Poynter’s full post is at this link

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Five of the best Tumblr news blogs

Blogging site Tumblr is growing at an incredible speed. There are now 32 million people in the US 4.5 million people in the UK visiting the site.

News organisations are engaging with the community by setting up their own Tumblr blogs. The Guardian set up a Tumblr account in January and started posting stories in February.

We have been taking a look at the Tumblr blogs of news organisations from around the world and have compiled a list of our favourite five.

1. Canada’s National Post

Why? For its use of photographs, front pages and graphics.


 

2. Washington Post’s Innovations

Why? For its linking of third party content, integration into its main site and the superb technology content (minus the deluge of royal wedding posts)

Washington Post Innovations

3. The Guardian

Why? For its design. It looks just like the Guardian. It includes a well-thought out layout, quantity and type of stories.

Guardian on Tumblr

3. LA Times

Why? For it tone and fabulous collection of photos.

LA Times on Tumblr

5. Newsweek

Why? For being very social and introducing us to their Tumblr person, linking multimedia content such as SoundCloud and for handy tabs within their layout theme

Newsweek Tumblr

Follow our how to guide to creating a Tumblr blog for a news organisation.

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How to: Create a Tumblr blog for your news organisation

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr is a very visual way of blogging. One of the many beauties of Tumblr is its simplicity and easy interface. You can create an account, choose a URL, select a design theme and create your first post in under five minutes.

It is free and it is social: users can reblog, flag up things they like and engage by asking questions and commenting. Since each Tumblr blog has its own URL, you don’t need to be a member to view posts.

Although it has been around since 2007, over the past year it has been growing at an incredible rate.

“Right now Tumblr serves up 5.7 billion pages each month; this is growing by 400 million more pages every week,” Mark Coatney from Tumblr told Journalism.co.uk.

Almost half the Tumblr pages viewed are from the US, but the UK Tumblr community is growing fast and it now has 4.5 million unique users and 8 per cent of page views making it the third largest country on Tumblr.

The US is first, with 32 million people visiting the site; Brazil second with 5.6 million.

News organisations are joining Tumblr.

.Guardian on Tumblr

Five of the best Tumblr news blogs are at this link.

Tumblr, which was started in New York in 2007, by David Karp when he was just 20, almost became too popular for its own good. In December, rapid expansion led to it being down for eight hours. It has since opened another data centre to cope with capacity.

How does it work?

Tumblr posting options

There are seven post types: text, photo, quote, link, chat, video, plus you can ask or answer questions.

You can post from the web-based dashboard or by downloading the free iPhone, Android or BlackBerry app.

There are also other options including posting links from Bookmarklet, publishing via email and other third party applications (find out more via the Goodies tab on the dashboard).

You can decide to follow people or organisations, much as you do on Twitter. You can reblog (similar to retweet) and “like” a story. Followers can also ask questions or leave messages. You can create a group blog so several members of a team can contribute (go to the dashboard and members).

Who should consider Tumblr?

News organisations and individuals.

There are some great examples of news organisations getting to grips with Tumblr with the Guardian leading the way in the UK. There are some great examples from the worlds of fashion and art.

Tumblr’s Mark Coatney pointed us in the direction of this Short Form Blog, a really nice independent site that does news analysis and curation.

Why use Tumblr?

To engage with the 4.5 million UK Tumblr users.

“Our use of Tumblr is neither a marketing exercise nor a means by which to generate simple click-throughs,” Stephen Abbott, executive producer at Guardian.co.uk told Journalism.co.uk.

“We launched the Tumblr because we wanted to engage with the Tumblr community and we’re always on the lookout for new communication tools which might help to improve or augment our editorial coverage.”

First things first

Get a feel for Tumblr and decide whether it is suitable for you or your news site.

“I would advise any journalists thinking about using Tumblr for their organisation to first get to grips with the nature of the platform and become familiar with the practices and tone used on Tumblr.

“Then they’ll be in a much better position to decide whether they could find a opening or niche on Tumblr which could be filled by their journalistic output,” Abbott explained.

Think about how you can engage without the Tumblr community and what you want to blog.

Perhaps you can use it for fashion and lifestyle, the best photography from your publication or as a way to connect readers with your newsroom. The Economist’s Tumblr blog includes its cartoons and front pages.

News organisations can use Tumblr “as a way into specific niches” of the organisations, Tumblr’s Mark Coatney advises.

“For instance, Washington Post does a very nice Tumblr blog just for their style section; this allows a specific kind of post reader another entry into the paper tailored just for them.”

The second piece of advice Coatney has is for organisations to use Tumblr “as a way to foster peer-to-peer communication between news organisation and reader”: GQ’s Tumblr, for instance, does an excellent job of using Tumblr’s “ask” feature (every Tumblr blog as an ask me a question page) to bring readers inside the GQ’s office.

His third piece of guidance is to use Tumblr “as a way to bring the intelligence of the newsroom to the public: CNN Money Tech has a group Tumblr that replicates the chatter that goes on in newsrooms every day; a cast of seven CNN reporters regularly dash off short notes and observations about stories they’re following throughout the day”.

Think visually. And also in terms of video and audio as Coatney explains.

Tumblr is a very visual platform; of the 25 million posts done every day on Tumblr, half of them are photos.

Posts with striking visuals tend to be reblogged more by other users as well, helping to spread the content quickly throughout Tumblr’s network.

The Guardian’s Stephen Abbott said: “We will often strive to post stories which have striking pictures or video to accompany the text of the post.

“But this doesn’t mean that we only post picture-led stories. As you can see from the variety of posts at guardian.tumblr.com, we like to try to post stories picked from a wide variety of sections on guardian.co.uk to showcase the breadth of content on our site.”

Along with receiving much attention for its use of Tumblr at SXSW, the Guardian has carried out two other experiments as part of its editorial coverage: this Glastonbury 2010 scrapbook and this one on untangling the web.

Think about who will manage it. Large news organisations use community editors.

“The Guardian Tumblr account is managed by our news community coordinators Laura Oliver and James Walsh,” Abbot explained.

“Laura and James work closely with our news desk editors on a wide variety of our coverage – from breaking news to long-form features – and they pick a variety of stories that they feel will be appropriate for Tumblr.”

Ready…

Now you have got a feel for Tumblr blogs you can create your account, which takes a few minutes. All you need is an email address, a password and a username, which will become part of your URL (thenews.tumblr.com)

Upload a picture/avatar. This is probably going to be your logo, perhaps the same as your Twitter thumbnail.

Tumblr themes

Now choose a design. You can opt for a free theme, pay for a premium one (costing between $9 and $49) or you can customise your own (perhaps with the help of a developer).

Look around at other examples and see what is most effective.

“We looked at many Tumblr accounts before creating the Guardian Tumblr in order to survey the enormous variety of designs and layouts available – but we didn’t copy any of these.

“Our designers came up with a look and feel for the Tumblr which was distinct to the Guardian but which capitalises on the strengths of Tumblr,” Abbott said.

Download the free smartphone app if you want to post from away from your desk/laptop.

Connect with Facebook and/or Twitter if you want your posts to be automatically added to your Facebook and Twitter news feeds (via customise on the dashboard). Bear in mind it will indicate that the post is via Tumblr.

Steady…

Consider other add ons. Tumblr supports short comments but you can also add your Disqus account you can also take advantage of Tumblr’s own back up tool. You can decide whether or not you want to embed the blog into your own website (via Goodies).

Get ready to analyse. Paste your Google Analytics code into your site description in the customize menu.

You’ll also be checking the notes section to see what has been reblogged.

You don’t necessarily have to heavily promote your Tumblr blog.

“We have alerted Guardian readers to the presence of the Guardian Tumblr via our main @Guardian Twitter account but, at present, we don’t promote the Guardian on Tumblr across our other platforms.” Abbott told us.

Go!

Start posting.

  • Go visual
  • Be conversational
  • Keep it short. One, two or three paragraphs and link additional background content
  • Don’t just promote your own content. For example, the LA Times has linked to an Economist article on California; Al Jazeera has posted third party content of a time lapse map of uprisings and protests
  • Tag tag tag. Tumblr is powered by tags
  • Reblog
  • Ask and answer

How did you get on? Let us know when your news organisation has set up a Tumblr account.

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News sites can now add a Facebook ‘send’ button

Facebook has launched a new plugin with great appeal to news sites.

“Send” is similar to the “like” function but allows Facebook users (and there are half a billion of them) to send a news story as a private message to an individual, a few friends or a group.

The “send” button can be added to a site’s sharing options, as the Washington Post has done here:

Send button

 

 

 

Or users can click the Facebook icon or ‘share’ button and they will then have the option to send the story as a private message.

Send as a message

 

 

A Facebook user may come across a gallery of marathon pictures on a news site and decide to “send” the link to everyone who sponsored them. Or a charity may want to “send” a news feature about a campaign to a particular group, which the members can then discuss privately.

Facebook message

According to this Facebook blog post, the ‘send’ button keeps people on your site.

The send button drives traffic by letting users send a link and a short message to the people that would be most interested. They don’t need to leave the web page they’re on or fill out a long, annoying form.

Compared to the alternatives, the send button has fewer required steps, and it removes the need to look up email addresses by auto-suggesting friends and groups.

A small group of news sites and brands launched their ‘send’ buttons yesterday.

Details of how to add the ‘send’ button to your site are at this link.

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Comment: Joe Lieberman, the New York Times and the idea of ‘bad citizenship’

Speaking to Fox News yesterday, Senator Joe Lieberman, who is among WikiLeaks’ fiercest critics, makes very clear his desire to see the organisation’s founder Julian Assange extradited to the US and indicted by any means possible. Or not possible just now, but possible very soon, perhaps.

More interesting than Lieberman’s quite naked desire to prosecute Assange or WikiLeaks, or both, is his speculation that the New York Times may have also committed a crime and may also be subject to some form of prosecution.

That isn’t a great leap though, if WikiLeaks has committed a crime in publishing the cables then surely the New York Times has also committed a crime. It seems likely that attorney general Eric Holder, try as he might, will have enough trouble bringing a case against WikiLeaks. The state has been bitten once already in this kind of fight with the Times and I suspect it will be quite shy about trying again.

More interesting still is Lieberman’s comment toward the end of the interview:

I think the New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship.

Holder can’t indict the Times for bad citizenship – yet – but the charge is an interesting one. It rests, at least in part, on the assumption that the interests and motives of the ‘good citizen’ align with those of the government. The American author Don DeLillo succinctly exposed the error in this assumption in 1988, in response to a very similar criticism by newspaper columnist George Will.

That year Will published a scathing review of DeLillo’s novel Libra in the Washington Post. He wasn’t a huge fan of the book. He called it:

… an act of literary vandalism and bad citizenship.

DeLillo’s novel, which tells of the events leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, mixes fact and fiction in the mold of Public Burning or Executioner’s Song. It challenges the official version of events presented by the Warren Commission report. In doing so it wounded George Will and, in Will’s mind, America too. The New York Times’ publication and coverage of the embassy cables has wounded Joe Lieberman and in Lieberman’s mind, America too. Lieberman makes his feelings plain in the Fox News interview: rather than discuss the possible indictment of Julian Assange in the (relatively) factual terms of breaking the law or not breaking the law, Lieberman whimpers about the “negative consequences” for America, about the country being “hurt”.

It sure looks to me on the facts that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have violated America’s espionage act, with great negative consequences for us.

He ought to be indicted and then we can ask the authorities to in England to extradite him to the United States. If we don’t do that someone else will come along and do exactly what WikiLeaks has done and that will hurt America even more.

But did DeLillo’s novel hurt America? Will the embassy cables? Are they acts of ‘bad citizenship’? More importantly, is an act of ‘bad citizenship’ a bad thing? Should the newspaper feel chastened?

This was DeLillo’s response to Will:

I don’t take it seriously, but being called a bad citizen is a compliment to a novelist, at least to my mind. That’s exactly what we ought to do. We ought to be bad citizens. We ought to, in the sense that we are writing against what power represents, and often what the government represents … In that sense, if we’re bad citizens, we’re doing our job.

Journalists should, of course be responsible, professional, and transparent where possible, but if the Times did not act as a ‘bad citizen’ in Will’s and Lieberman’s terms, would its journalists be doing their jobs?

Whether or not the newspaper has committed a crime is one thing but this stuff about ‘bad citizenship’, this stuff about America the Brave being wounded by one of its own, is as ludicrous now as it was when George Will said it. The New York Times should pledge allegiance to the truth, not the flag.

Senator Joe Lieberman, a good citizen?

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Nieman Journalism Lab: Are news organisations thinking about linking?

June 11th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

“Links can add a lot of value to stories, but the journalism profession as a whole has been surprisingly slow to take them seriously. That’s my conclusion from several months of talking to organizations and reporters about their linking practices, and from counting the number and type of links from hundreds of stories,” writes Jonathan Stray.

Stray looks at the linking policies and strategies of BBC News, Reuters, Dow Jones, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Associated Press. There’s more to come from this research, but some initial conclusions suggest there’s a way to go when it comes to linking out:

Reading between the lines, it seems that most newsrooms have yet to make a strong commitment to linking. This would explain the mushiness of some of the answers I received, where news organizations “encourage” their reporters or offer “guidance” on linking.

Full post at this link…

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Loudoun Independent: Washington Post pulling plug on hyperlocal site in Loudoun

August 18th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

The Washington Post is pulling the plug on its hyperlocal site, the Loudoun Extra, two years after launch, reports the Loudoun Independent.

“While the Washington Post remains dedicated to maintaining a high level of coverage of the counties surrounding Washington, D.C., we found that our experiment with LoudounExtra.com as a separate site was not a sustainable model,” said Kris Coratti, the Post’s director of communications.

Full post at this link…

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Washington Post: ‘Whiny WashPost Reporter Makes His Point: Respect the Genuine Article’

August 3rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Well, that’s Ian Shapira’s suggested headline for a follow-up story on Gawker, after the site picked up on and heavily excerpted his story on ‘branding consultant’ Anne Loehr.

Gawker included a link to his original article – but only at the very bottom of the post.

Shapira’s initial happiness at having his story featured on Gawker turned to disillusion as he questioned the benefits of traffic driven by Gawker to his original piece, he writes in a follow-up piece.

Gawker may make money from advertising around its aggregation of original reporting from other sources, which have invested time and money into the report, but does a spike in traffic help the Washington Post’s bottom line, he asks.

“After talking with Denton [Nick Denton, Gawker founder], Nolan [Hamilton Nolan, the Gawker author] and others for this article, I still want a fluid blogosphere, but one where aggregators – newspapers included – are more transparent about whom they’re heavily excerpting. They should mention the original source immediately. And if bloggers want to excerpt at length, a fee would be the nice, ethical gesture,” he writes.

Full article at this link…

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What did Walter Cronkite think about online journalism?

July 23rd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

On Monday, The Washington Post hosted a live Q&A with Marlene Adler, former chief of staff to Walter Cronkite, the much-respected news anchorman who died last week, aged 92. WashingtonPost.com users put questions about his career to her. What would Cronkite have thought of the internet and its impact on journalism, they wondered. Adler said that Cronkite would have adapted easily to online journalism, but that he was worried about internet source attribution.

Full Q&A at this link…

Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview (Hat-tip: StinkyJournalism):

Chevy Chase, Md (…) “How did Mr. Cronkite feel about technology in general, and specifically as it relates to news and the demise of newspapers”

Marlene Adler: (…) “He loved the new technology, (the Internet) but also saw the problems with reliability of news delivery. He was concerned that news sources on the Internet were not attributable and worried that it would further diminish trust in the news media.

“About newspapers disappearing, he was sad indeed. He was a newspaper man first and loved that part of his life and that business. He was incredulous that entire cities could be without a newspaper.”

Washington, D.C.: “A friend was supposing that she thought Cronkite would have more easily adapted to online journalism because of his work for UPI. What were his thoughts about balancing speed and accuracy, and did he really think it was much different from what countless wire reporters have done for years?”

Marlene Adler: “As a newspaper man and a TV reporter, speed and accuracy were what it was all about. Getting the facts, getting them right and getting the story out first, whenever possible. He didn’t like to be scooped by another network or print reporter. However, he would not release a story, even if it meant being second, if he could not authenticate his sources. I, too, think he would easily have adapted to online journalism.”

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